A nimble fleet of kayakers has been delivering goods to a farm near Chilliwack, B.C., ever since the floods cut off road access in mid-November.
Suzy Coulter, whose farm is south of Chilliwack, ended up getting cut off from the main road after the massive storms of Nov. 15 and 16.
Coulter said the road was “completely eaten” by the surging Chilliwack River and the only road access left for the farm is a forest service road at the top of a steep hill.
“We can hike up, get in our trucks, drive back down and get into town, but it’s a huge endeavour,” Coulter said on CBC’s On The Coast.
“Basically, it’s like a grind, and you know we’re not in top fitness level.”
Enter Ky Konojaki, who owns the Purple Hayes School of Kayaking.
“Rumour had it in the neighbourhood that there’s tons of kayakers because we all live right on the Chilliwack River,” Coulter said, “and so I know Ky a little bit just from the neighbourhood … I thought I’m going to call up Ky and just see if he would possibly be into some of the heavy stuff by boat.”
Konojaki was more than willing and able.
“She reached out to me before I had a chance to get a hold of her. We were all on the same page,” he said.
Putting kayaking plan in place
Before setting out, Konojaki and a team of experienced kayakers had to plan for the journey.
This meant making sure the weight of the items Coulter had requested — like chicken feed and dog food — were evenly distributed among the kayaks.
“We basically made everything into smaller packages one night, and then went into the garage and made sure that it would fit in the certain spots so that we could get in and out of the boats safely if we had to,” Konojaki said.
Next, Konojaki had to take stock of the river.
“It definitely is a higher risk [to kayak] because with the higher water level that came down, there’s so much debris and trees in the water, we just had to be very cautious, and we had to take it slowly and safely as we go by.”
‘Over the moon’
Coulter sent pictures of her side of the river so the kayakers would be aware of any obstacles on their way.
Then, they were able to set off. When Coulter saw the colourful cavalcade of kayaks pull up, she was “totally over the moon.”
“It’s been a bit isolating up here since this happened and it was just absolutely thrilling to see these brightly coloured kayaks, this posse of angels coming down the river,” she said.
“Suzy was happily waiting for us with cupcakes,” Konojaki said.
Coulter said properties in the valley have faced dire consequences from the flood, with many of her friends having to evacuate their homes due to the risk of mudslides or floods.
“We feel lucky because our homes are fine and we have this beautiful farm. We just can’t get in and out easily.
“It’s challenging, but there’s been people helping up and down this valley … we’re on the receiving end right now, but we hope to be able to reciprocate as soon as we can.”
As for the next delivery?
Konojaki said there will be wine for Christmas — and Coulter will be waiting on the banks of the river with shortbread.
On The Coast9:38Neighbour uses kayak to deliver groceries